Definition of Atelectasis

In this article, we will discuss the Definition of Atelectasis. So, let’s get started.

Definition

It is a condition characterised by the collapse of alveoli, preventing the respiratory exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the lungs. Symptoms may include diminished breath sounds or respiratory crackles, a mediastinal shift toward the side of the collapse, fever, and increased dyspnea. As the remaining portion of the lungs eventually hyperinflate, the oxygen saturation of the blood is often nearly normal. Atelectasis is a potential complication following surgery, especially in individuals who have undergone chest or abdominal operations resulting in associated abdominal or chest pain during breathing. Anyone undergoing chest or abdominal surgery using general anaesthesia is at risk of developing atelectasis, since breathing is often shallow post surgery in order to avoid pain from the surgical incision, this causes significant decrease in airflow to the alveoli, contributes to pooling of secretions, which in turn can cause infection.

Clinical Features

  • Increased temperature, pulse, and respiratory rate
  • Flushed/feverish patient
  • Tightness/discomfort of the affected side of the chest
  • Poor chest expansion
  • X-ray reveals collapse of lung (in first 48 hours post surgery)
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